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District Auditor (Islington)

Volume 78: debated on Wednesday 8 May 1985

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3.35 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the threat to Islington council's jobs and services by the presence of the district auditor in the town hall this morning."
I make this application because in the borough of Islington, as in the rest of the country, we have a democratically elected council and a local authority which is attempting to keep faith with the people who elected it and to maintain jobs and services. Islington council, like various other councils, has been subjected to a process of selective vindictiveness by the Government since 1979 and more than £40 million of rate support grant has been taken from the borough. Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for the Environment announced that Islington council, in common with the other poorest parts of the country, was to be rate-capped and to lose grant and that the Secretary of State would control its spending levels. Since then, in common with others and as part of its campaign to get central Government funds back, Islington borough council has not set a rate.

The matter is urgent because the district auditor—not the Secretary of State for the Environment, who is the real villain and the person who wishes to destroy the jobs and services, but a Government agent—arrived at the town hall this morning to threaten local councillors with court proceedings if they did not set a rate in the near future.

The matter is important because the council has the support of the population of Islington. More than 2,000 people turned up at the town hall this morning to express their views, and the work force feels likewise. It is also urgent because there is a danger that the Government's policies will seek to criminalise councillors in Islington and elsewhere merely for keeping faith with the manifestos on which they were elected.

It is urgent that the matter be debated in the House so that the Secretary of State can explain why he takes that attitude towards Islington and the other poorest parts of the country.

The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the threat to Islington council's jobs and services by the presence of the district auditor in the town hall this morning."
I have listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman has said but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10 and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.